Your coworker never stops talking about it, your grandparents keep asking you to play, your neighbors are obsessed with it. Pickleball. It's everywhere! Can it really be that fun? Isn't just a game to help old people pass the time?
Yes, it is that fun -- and no, it's not just for old people. Speaking from personal experience, pickleball is the best game ever -- and everyone should try it. Not convinced? Allow me to take the podium.
What Is Pickleball and Why Is It So Popular?
Pickleball combines the best parts of tennis, ping pong, and badminton into a sport that you can play for HOURS on end, multiple days a week. You play doubles or singles on a badminton-sized court with composite or wooden paddles and a yellow wiffle ball. Doubles is the most popular, and in my opinion, the most fun. It's a sport that is taking the country by storm, headed for world domination -- and I'm here for it.
The truth is that the game of pickleball is addicting because it's so. much. FUN. And it comes with a lot of positive side benefits you might not see coming when you first start to play. Just give it a couple of months and you'll notice the impact.
Pickleball Benefits That Make It So Addictive
I'm not alone in believing that pickleball is a life-changing sport. The hype is real, but it's understandable to think pickleballers are a little too obsessed. We are, and we don't care. Won't you join us? After all, there are so many reasons to love this gosh darn game.
1. It's Easy to Learn
Although there are some particular rules that take a few tries to grasp, it only takes around 10 minutes for beginners to learn how to play pickleball. Get the scoring down, understand the rules about the kitchen, serve underhand, and you're pretty much ready to go!
2. It's Fun Stress Relief
Some people do yoga to relieve stress, some work in their garden -- I play pickleball. It's one of the only times I can forget about whatever is going on in life and be present in what I'm doing (without having to try). If I've had a stressful day, I almost always feel better after pickleball.
3. You'll Make a Lot of Pickleball Friends
90% of the friends I have made in adulthood are because of pickleball. I have played with hundreds of different people, and I'm sure some people could say they've played with over a thousand. My fave pickleball peeps are who I share life's big moments with now, and it feels pretty magical that it's all because of this "silly" sport.
4. Get More Quality Time With Your Partner
My husband and I started playing pickleball together as a fun way to get some activity together. Most people who play with their significant other know it's not always sunshine & rainbows. But at the end of the day, it's made us better at communicating and working through complicated emotions -- so we're stronger because of it.
Even if you start playing pickleball as a single person, you might just end up meeting the love of your life. There are a lot of sweet pickleball love stories out there, and you could be one of them!
5. Pickleball Is Great Exercise
As with anything, you get out of pickleball what you put into it, and it can be a really good workout. I typically burn more than 1,000 calories over a few hours of play, and with the amount of squatting, lunging, chasing down lobs and short drops, and fast hands battles you go through -- your body will feel it the next day. It actually motivates me to work harder in non-pickleball workouts so I don't feel like I'm dying during more competitive games.
6. You Can Ball on a Budget
How much you want to invest in your pickleball game is up to you... but truly, you can learn how to play with a $10 paddle, $5 balls, and a free outdoor court. I would recommend investing in a pair of court shoes, though -- playing in running shoes is a good way to topple over and twist an ankle.
7. Pickleball Is for Every Age
The stereotype is that seniors love pickleball, which isn't unfounded. But like I said, so does every other age! In fact, the game is getting younger as it grows in popularity, with more than 70% of players between the ages of 18 and 44 years old. Personally, I've noticed an uptick in youth pickleball events in my area, which is very exciting for the growth of the sport and developing new talent. See? It's not just for old people... but they will whoop your butt.
8. You Can Pickle & Travel
We don't travel without our pickleball gear very often anymore. It's so easy to throw your lightweight paddle and a few balls into your suitcase and look for some courts when you get to your destination. Staying active while on vacay? Perfect. Meeting the local pickleballers? Fun! We've played in 7 different states so far, but hoping to play in many more!
9. It Doesn't Require a Sports Background
Some people like to rag on pickleball for being a sport for unathletic people. It happens to be a sport for everyone at any level of athleticism -- and what's wrong with that? I know lots of pickleball addicts who never played a racquet sport before. I also know people who were college tennis players who fly across the court like nobody's business -- and they're just as addicted as the rest of us. As long as you're playing with others at your skill-level, your games will feel competitive, intense, and evenly-matched.
10. Pickleball Is a Party Sport
Pickleball is a very social activity. Some pickleball clubs (like my local club, Wolverine Pickleball), will host "mixers" where everyone brings food & bevvies and plays pickleball for hours. And for those lucky folks that have their own pickleball courts, look out! That's when the party really gets going. If you're looking for something fun to do but are tired of bar-hopping and dance clubs aren't really your thing, pickleball might be your new favorite Friday night shenanigans.
11. I Manage My Anxiety Better
I'll admit that a few conversations with my therapist centered around how my negative self-talk and anxiety was impacting my pickleball game. I knew I needed to figure out how to manage it. I'm definitely a more confident person than I was pre-pickleball, and have learned how to be more kind to myself, on and off the court.
12. You Can Play Indoor or Outdoor
If you're lucky enough to be near indoor courts, then your play won't be limited to sunny days. With the way the sport's growing, it won't be long before most people have access to indoor courts. They're popping up in churches, senior centers, and even middle schools or high schools.
13. Pickleball Gets Competitive
This sport may seem like all fun and games, but for some people, it gets serious. There are high-intensity tournaments, friendly (or sometimes not-so-friendly) rivalries, and it can get heated on the court. I personally do everything I can to avoid conflict, but I'll admit that it can be fun to watch other people's drama unfold. And if you do like competition, it's a win!
14. It's a Very Accessible Sport
Pickleball is accessible for people with varying abilities, which makes it unique from other sports. Adaptive pickleball modifies the rules and/or equipment so people with disabilities can reap all the benefits of this amazing sport. Just another reason to love it!
15. The Rewards of Winning
I actually never thought I'd be brave enough to play in a tournament, but my pickleball friends convinced me to try it, and the rest is history. There's nothing like the feeling of winning a medal in a tournament, especially a gold medal! But they're not easily won if you're playing at the right level. It takes physical and mental persistence and strong trust in your partner to get there, but the payoff is definitely gratifying.
16. ...And the Lessons of Loss
All that said, I've gone through several tournaments not winning a single match. It's not a great feeling, but once that wears off, you're left with a few lessons on what you could have done better. Whether I win or lose, I walk away from every tournament with a list of things to work on. And guess what? I actually go work on them. It's fun to win, and it's motivating to lose.
17. It'll Challenge You (and Change You) Mentally
Besides trying to remember the score, pickleball will put your mental game to the test. Are you emotionally strong enough to make a good comeback, or do you give up when you start falling behind or miss a few shots? I love getting to practice my mental fortitude and focus every time I play!
18. Singles Pickleball Is a Whole Different Game
Most people play doubles in pickleball, so you play with a group of 4. But you can also play singles if it's just you and your fave pickleball buddy (for me, that's my husband). We play singles and skinny singles usually once or twice a week. You get more intense cardio from singles, and it helps you practice drives, placement, and footwork. Tennis players will love the similarities between singles tennis and singles pickleball.
19. The Whole Family Can Play
Many of our family get-togethers on both mine and my husband's sides will involve some pickleball nowadays. It's a nice way to get some activity, and, did I mention it's a sport for all ages? So from nieces & nephews to grandparents, it's a family activity that everyone can get in on.
20. More Pro Sports to Watch
In time, you'll probably find yourself catching some pro pickleball events on TV or at live tournaments; take your pick from the APP, PPA, or MLP. Once you start to learn the top players, it's exciting to witness upsets and of course, the drama! The only pro sport I usually go out of my way to watch is tennis, and now pickleball -- which is fun for both my husband and I.
Pickleball Is More Than Just a Good Time
With so many things to love about pickleball besides the fun of the game, it's easy to see why everyone and their grandma are talking about it. It starts out as just something to do for fun, but stick with it and you'll start to see all of the ways pickleball makes your life better. You might even become one of those people constantly posting about pickleball on social media.
From the physical to emotional to social benefits, it becomes so much more than a sport for many of us. I've said it before that pickleball has changed my life, and thousands of people would say the same. So what are you waiting for? Come to the dark side -- we have a lot of fun!